The debate over timber harvest in Oregon is simple. Will we tolerate increased clear cutting on our publicly owned state land? Will we succumb to the demands of timber companies for increased harvest in areas already designated for conservation?
Will we allow the Linn County timber lawsuit to derail balanced forest management? Will we succumb to the cries of local taxing districts or will we prompt our county commissioners to lobby in Salem for better solutions to their fiscal shortfall than cutting down our conservation forests?
At the June 8 county commission meeting we learned that our commissioners are not actively taking a position on forest management. Commission Chairman Scott Lee advocated a “let’s wait and see” non-position, hoping that the
Oregon Board of Forestry, which is authorized to set the rules for both private and state timber harvest, will put forth a “balanced product.” Instead of this reactive approach, the commissioners could help drive the conversation on the new rules by taking more of a leadership role, and setting parameters for a plan they would accept.
The Clatsop County Vison 2030 Together plan, which was initiated and approved by the full commission, would be a good reference point in laying out those parameters. This document shows that citizens want to “protect and enhance our scenic beauty and natural resources,” calling for “portions (of the forest) permanently protected for their inherent natural value.” Nowhere in the document’s 16-point future economic goals is timber harvest, or increased timber harvest, mentioned.
At the same meeting, Commissioner Lianne Thompson has made it clear that she discounts the vision plan as biased because the public forums held were attended primarily by “community activists.” She goes on to say, “I was not on this board when the vision report was adopted.” Not true. The record shows that not only did she vote to approve the plan, but she made the motion to approve it.
Is it possible that Thompson’s independent judgment is compromised by her marriage to the county administrator of Linn County, initiators of the timber lawsuit? That could also explain her saying that she has “been talking with some of our federal delegation about unlocking (read logging) some of the federal forests so we don’t have to pay billions of dollars to fight fires in an unmanaged forest.”
The salient point here is that Clatsop County has virtually no federal forests, while Linn County forests are 52 percent federal. Which county is she representing? What’s going on?